Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Days of Summer

Gentle Readers,

Summer is winding down, and though I have enjoyed every moment of canning and preserving like a mad human, I must admit to being relieved that it's coming to an end. As my first full canning season, and my first big summer garden, I have had my hands full of projects these past months. Not to mention becoming employed at the end of May, getting married in California in June, and starting a new job this month. I feel that all this has trampled my writing efforts into the ground recently - but fear not! I give you the summer recap.

Canning Projects Completed, Summer 2011 (Thus Far) 
Strawberry jam, 20 half pint jars
Radish relish, 6 half pints
Radish top kimchi, 1 quart
Sauerkraut, 1 quart
Cucumber and eggplant pickles, 3 quarts
Strawberry vanilla jam, 6 half pints
Zucchini, shredded and diced, 4 quarts and 4 pints
Blueberries, 6 pints
Blueberry syrup, 4 pints
Dilly beans, 9 pints
Ginger pears, 7 pints
Tomato sauce, 8 quarts and 4 pints
Peach vanilla jam, 9 half pints
Peach slices, 4 quarts
Peach butter, 5 half pints
Slow roasted tomatoes, 2 quarts (frozen)
Tomato conserva, 3 half pints (not canned, preserved under olive oil)
Roasted tomato salsa, 12 pints
Roasted tomatillo salsa, 4 half pints
Tomato jam, 6 half pints
Corn, 12 pints
Tomato soup, 11 quarts
Tomato basil sauce, 4 quarts (basil from the garden!)

Summer 2011 Preservation Failures 

Tomato jam - not through any fault of the recipe, which I am sure is delicious when not left in a slow cooker for more than 24 hours and burnt to an oozing charcoal goo - not a good smell to wake up to. A few days after the Tomato Jam Catastrophe of Twenty-Eleven, I summoned the courage to give it another go, and succeeded at producing six half-pints of this ketchup replacement.

Roasted tomatillo salsa - my first "jar breaks in the canner" experience was not a fun one. I spent $3 a pint for extremely tiny tomatillos from the farmers market, and a good portion of them turned out to be worm eaten under their papery skins. From the rest, I managed to make five half-pints worth of roasted salsa verde. Upon placement in the canner, one of the jars immediately exploded in a swirl of broken glass. Fishing glass out of boiling water turns out not to be as easy as you would think - shocking. The ultimate disappointment is that the end product was a very overly limey, extremely expensive salsa.

Summer 2011 Kick-Assing-est Preserves 

Peach butter - made using the guidelines from Food in Jars. Absolutely amazing. I used half honey and half sugar, for a total of about two cups to (probably about) 10 lbs of peaches, simmered with a split vanilla bean and some cinnamon and cardamom added in at the end of the slow cooker magic. I also helped the smoothness along with my immersion blender. Conclusion? Everything is better with vanilla beans.

Radish relish - Idon't even like relish! Or radishes! However, this recipe from Well Preserved makes one hell of a classy relish. That's just how they roll in Canada. I couldn't find black radishes, so I used the terribly cute Easter Egg variety. I'm currently growing radishes for the express purpose of making more of this relish.

Perhaps my biggest time commitment has been attempting to preserve 100 lbs of tomatoes - the most of anything I have ever attempted to preserve, ever. Now that I've finished Operation Eat Local Tomatoes All Winter - I can move on to other, less urgent projects, like racking my latest cider onto some spices for a delicious spiced winter beverage.

The beginning of the Great Tomato Madness, and peach jam and butter.

Dilly beans and ginger pears.

Strawberry jam party! Nothing like jamming with friends.

Luminous peach vanilla jam.

Fall is definitely on its way, and thoughts of winter are creeping into my consciousness after months of reveling in the glories of bare feet and short sleeves. The apples are making their way towards ripeness, and in the meantime, I am taking a little break from preserving. 

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